Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 130, Issue 5, pp 829–844 | Cite as

Elevational plant species richness patterns and their drivers across non-endemics, endemics and growth forms in the Eastern Himalaya

  • Kumar Manish
  • Maharaj K. Pandit
  • Yasmeen Telwala
  • Dinesh C. Nautiyal
  • Lian Pin Koh
  • Sudha Tiwari
Regular Paper

Abstract

Despite decades of research, ecologists continue to debate how spatial patterns of species richness arise across elevational gradients on the Earth. The equivocal results of these studies could emanate from variations in study design, sampling effort and data analysis. In this study, we demonstrate that the richness patterns of 2,781 (2,197 non-endemic and 584 endemic) angiosperm species along an elevational gradient of 300–5,300 m in the Eastern Himalaya are hump-shaped, spatial scale of extent (the proportion of elevational gradient studied) dependent and growth form specific. Endemics peaked at higher elevations than non-endemics across all growth forms (trees, shrubs, climbers, and herbs). Richness patterns were influenced by the proportional representation of the largest physiognomic group (herbs). We show that with increasing spatial scale of extent, the richness patterns change from a monotonic to a hump-shaped pattern and richness maxima shift toward higher elevations across all growth forms. Our investigations revealed that the combination of ambient energy (air temperature, solar radiation, and potential evapo-transpiration) and water availability (soil water content and precipitation) were the main drivers of elevational plant species richness patterns in the Himalaya. This study highlights the importance of factoring in endemism, growth forms, and spatial scale when investigating elevational gradients of plant species distributions and advances our understanding of how macroecological patterns arise.

Keywords

Elevational gradient Endemic Growth forms Himalaya Macroecology Richness patterns 

Supplementary material

10265_2017_946_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (722 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 722 KB)

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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kumar Manish
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maharaj K. Pandit
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yasmeen Telwala
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dinesh C. Nautiyal
    • 2
  • Lian Pin Koh
    • 3
  • Sudha Tiwari
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental StudiesUniversity of DelhiDelhiIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill EnvironmentUniversity of DelhiDelhiIndia
  3. 3.Environment Institute, and School of Biological SciencesUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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